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    Isaac Spector and Kristina Diaz in Nicole Wolcott's Una Furtiva Abbrachiarre in DanceNow 2017
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    Isaac Spector and Kristina Diaz in Nicole Wolcott's Una Furtiva Abbrachiarre

    All of the Above

    DanceNow Festival at Joe's Pub


    Age can make people and institutions tired and fragile, or richer and better. The DanceNow Festival, in its 22nd season, is still trending toward better. The choreographer mix is tilting toward veteran, but there is plenty of fresh in some of the oldest performers, and each year brings new dancers and at least a couple new names.

    DANCENOW 2017
    Produced by: Robin Staff, Tamara Greenfield, Sydney Skybetter.
    Lighting design by: Lauren Parrish.
    Production stage manager: Rachel Jacquin.
    MC: Trudee (Deborah Lohse).

    Related links: |
    Joe's Pub
    September 6-9, 2017

    Over four nights, the level felt higher each night, but there were gems throughout. Jane Comfort created 4 Screaming Women in 1982, but it couldn't have been more timely or politically spot-on if it had been made yesterday afternoon. Two duets were sharp in concept and style — Late by Cleo Mack, danced by Kelli McGovern and Sean Langford, to Dinah Washington's "is you is, is you ain't my baby"; and Can't Stop by Amber Sloan, dancing with Sy Gaskin in old-timey, lively style with a twist of humor. Two other duets were pretty and well-danced — two wage by Kyle Marshall, danced by Miriam Gabriel and Nick Sciscione; and Kira kira by TAKE Dance, performed by Brynt Beitman and Kristi Tomga.

    Thursday, and Christal Brown, gave us At This Point, the last(?) in a series of searingly personal but seriously engaging solos she has created over the years. She moves really well and her dancing strengthens her words, but here's hoping the words keep coming onstage even if the dancing stops. Two very good and very different duets followed — Gregory Dalbashian's clever Bro Code, danced really well by Christopher Ralph and Isaies Santamaria Perez to recorded dialog by Dalbashian; and Zvi Gotheiner's On the Road, yet another amazing boy-girl modern dance duet by a ballet master with a boyfriend. A sweet filmed-outdoor dance shown above the dance onstage gives the title. Claire Porter picks another winner in It's a Horserace, the latest of her amazing choreocomic creations. And Nicole Wolcott's choreography is blossoming, this time with Una Furtiva Abbracciare, a fun-easy-fluid-sweet duet for Kristina Diaz and Isaac Spector.

    L-R: Leslie Cuyjet, Nancy Alfaro, Peter Sciscioli, Jane Comfort in DanceNow 2017
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    L-R: Leslie Cuyjet, Nancy Alfaro, Peter Sciscioli, Jane Comfort

    Friday drove home the point that androgyny and fluid sexuality play large parts in good dance. Kate Weare's Volver may have been the most sensuous, charged duet of the festival, in part because it is a strong tango and in part because Doug Gillespie and Ryan Rouland Smith have red-hot chemistry and connection. Laser focus, soft hands and unbreakable flow keep the two riveting, too. Matty Davis in Kora Radella's This is a Forge, Klassic Carella in Loni Landon's Keepsake and Andrew McShea in RubĂ©n Graciani's R.O.O.T. give wondrously soft landings, fluid bodypart isolations and extensions, and simple grace a masculine femininity that is so much more interesting than typical "male" or "female". And Amy Miller's fierce speed and masterful play with musical timing and gesture in Persist have a masculine swagger with a feminine sensibility that make it close to perfect. And then there are Jordan Isadore and Raja Feather Kelly, two choreographer/dancers who throw gender out the closest window. Isadore often has a blast and garners guffaws, while Kelly hews closer to disturbing, with a strong dose of fascinating. Isadore's farcical Feelings Solo and Kelly's quartet of two men and two women — or some other combination — all wearing old-timey clothes and bankrobber nylons over their faces for WEDNESDAY are two of the stronger pieces each has made.

    Brendan Drake and friends in DanceNow 2017
    Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
    Brendan Drake and friends

    So much of Saturday's show was brilliant that choosing a best would be pointless. Caleb Techer certainly crushed David Parker's Song and Dance Mozart tap-and-hum solo. Martin Durov and Laja Field dance the fastest, sharpest tango/contact hybrid on any stage. And Brendan Drake and friends take deadpan campy satire to new heights in This is Desire, with deft timing and understated skill, and Janet Jackson music. Other solos slammed, too. Heather Hamilton almost burned down the pub in Tricia Brouk's I Stand Up, a fired-up exhortation to stand up to crazy evil any way we can. Magda San Millan is perfecting disturbing, in feral wild girl child, as an IV-connected, medically complicated patient rocking out to Uptown Funk. And Gus Solomons jr says volumes with minimal movement and good song choice in OutCome, blowing away any excuses not to make good work with what you have. Yet there's still room for a cute, fresh, crisp duet by Emily Schoen and Brandon Cournay, Robotic Love, that feels like a sunny day at an uncrowded beach.

      Laja Field and Martin Durov in DanceNow 2017
      Photo by Yi-Chun Wu
      Laja Field and Martin Durov
    I vote for all of the above. To see most of the above, there is an encore performance September 28 at Joe's Pub.

    SEPTEMBER 16, 2017

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